From Mohawks To Mullets

Images from 25 years of Phoenix music

Yet there are some names and parties that should never be forgotten, and forgive me if I forget one. The kick-starters, the true believers, the purists who introduced the Valley to after-hours culture and a new form of music: Tall Paul, Fuzzy Chris, Sloane Burwell, Chris Flores, R.C. Lair, Inertia (and his partner Sarah Gianetto), Markus Schulz, and Blaz (who used to hotwire the energy at break-in warehouse parties). And of course Scotty from Basshead and Russ from Swell, the dynamic duo who guided the Phoenix rave scene through the minefield from the deep underground to a tentative legitimacy in the eyes of authority, and often paid the price from their own pockets when a misstep was made and the police helicopters arrived with their snipers and bullhorns: "Turn off the music and go home."

Looking way back, to the early '90s, one sees the Phoenix scene beginning in established night clubs such as the Silver Dollar and the Kon Tiki Hotel on Van Buren, the quasi-legal Gallery X, and last and most of all the Works, all of which hosted glorious parties and lasted only a matter of weeks before they were being wrapped up in red tape and laid to rest in the unofficial history tomes of Valley-scene lore.

Now, nearly a decade later, it's come full circle.

There are still warehouse raves, of course, where the candy kids suck pacifiers and wave their glowsticks and go "ooh" and "aah" at the pretty pink tracers. And, hey, I was one of them once, as were so many of the movers and shakers clocking bank and, yes, still throwing grand parties, in a subculture that has become exponentially mainstreamed and more profitable.

The truth is, we can't go back to the underground, no matter how many of us would like to. And so we've gone legit, moving into the licensed, fire-code approved and otherwise officially sanctioned venues: Pompeii (soon to become Freedom), the Crowbar, World, and Insomnia, among others. The best DJs spin there, because they get paid enough to make a living and don't have to worry about a man with a badge turning off their power at three in the morning.

It's a club thing now.

We all got older and wiser, but at least we're still dancing. -- David Holthouse

Indie Kids

We're certainly no Olympia or Berkeley, but the Valley has its own inspiring underground rock tradition dating at least as far back as the Meat Puppets' '80s heyday, when they were leading the brigade of SST bands infiltrating the headphones of punk-rock kids across America.

Five years ago, when the turn of the century was but a curious glimmer in the back of our minds, bands like Jimmy Eat World, Slugger, Reuben's Accomplice, Safehouse, Mad At 'Em, and Born to Ignorance were surveilling and marking a new path, a roadway subsequently paved by the individual successes of the aforementioned. Jimmy Eat World's major-label accomplishments -- the stellar Static Prevails and last year's shimmering Clarity LP -- proved to the world that our little desert held gems that are more easily accessible than the Lost Dutchman's legends would have you believe.

The tradition continues today. Though Jimmy Eat World has left the major-label pastures, the band continues to compose some of the best music ever to come out of our state; upstarts like the Half Visconte and Harcuvar have modified and evolved the form into exciting new structures of sound; the Daggers, the Peeps and Sonic Thrills have revived the city's garage-rock heritage; diverse acts from Trunk Federation to Pollen and the Phunk Junkeez have taken their own paths to success; individual efforts like Half Visconte front man Scott Tennent's solo performances and Jim Adkins' symphonic Go Big Casino project continue to expand the horizons of our "indie rock" scene.

This development of the underground was made possible by the toil and sweat of some very determined kids and equally persistent adults. Whether in the corner of a record store, in a bowling alley or at a glorified warehouse space, ingenuity and sheer will have guaranteed that the Valley's underground legions have a home in which to rock. Consequently, we're now blessed with Modified, Phoenix's premier joint to check out independent bands both local and otherwise.

As the years drag on, the future's course can best be predicted by examining the past. On that theory, the Valley's underground rockers will certainly be looking forward to bright days. -- Brendan Kelley

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